Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Dementia

Dementia seems like a scary but not crazy diagnosis.  Vascular Dementia is different from Alzheimer's Disease.  Pick your poison, they both devastate your world.  The sad thing for my dad is that he knows he is losing his mind (cognitive function if you want to be precise).

In just one year Dad has gone from living in the family home and driving to living in an "independent living" facility and suffering from debilitating bouts of confusion.  He went from managing his entire world to needing help with everything from money management to daily medication.  Twice in the last week he double dosed himself on his medications. Hence we now will have the facility manage his medication  for him daily-- even though my brother called him daily to tell him what day of the week it was and which allocation of pills he needed from the pre-sorted pill box (that was sorted by the day of the week once a day dosage).

Getting old is not for sissies; if you have pride, leave it at the door -- it will be stripped from you.

Selling the family home in September was painful.  Dealing with depression afterward was heartbreaking.  How did he decline so quickly?  He was driving one year ago and yet last week he could not find his apartment without assistance.  He can't dial the phone and is saved by speed dials which are preprogrammed.  He can't remember his words and asks for Frito Scoops when he wants Chex Mix.  He can still joke and remind me that his boxers have the same stripes as his shirts -- "please don't take my boxers to the cleaners!" he reminds me :)  I have learned to that "My computer isn't working!" means that his TV is not working.  He has called me on the phone to let me know his phone does not work.

I think of it as the brain becoming swiss cheese.  Some parts are there and solid and some parts are GONE.

I miss my strong father.  I embrace the parts of him that are left and that I still recognize.  I feel sorrow that he suffers as he KNOWS he is losing it and is embarrassed beyond reassurance that he can not make it through the grocery checkout without delaying the line.  This haunts him despite the fact that everyone in line behind him finds him engaging, adorable, and a pleasure.  He apologizes beyond reason and fellow grocery shoppers smile and have nothing but patience for this kind old man who needs a little extra time and might need help with his words.  Palsy is obvious and nobody shames him for the extra time it takes to deal with that pesky billfold.

May I have the grace necessary to help him on this journey.  He is the BEST dad.... I wish he did not have to feel shame about the parts of the brain that are gone.  He used to be super active, very engaged, and the life of the party.  Now the world gets smaller for him and the bigger world misses out on a light as it starts to dim....

I know my mom went ahead to make a place for him.  It is my sincere hope that his suffering is minimized as he awaits the blessed reunion with the love of his life.  Mom left us 9 years ago.  It feels like a moment ago and a million years ago.  I want to keep dad with me, but I realize this is selfish.  His job is done.

His bride awaits.  He is ready for his father to welcome him home.  May God have mercy on my father and his soul.  May perpetual light shine upon him that I may not be selfish and hold him to this world while eternal life and the grand reunion await him.  May I remember that this reunion is what he deserves and that needing my dad is secondary to my dad's needs.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Where to begin?  It has been a crazy year.  My son who has a sleep disorder developed an eating disorder and attempted suicide one year ago this week.  Wonder Boy is way too intellectual.  If you don't function with faith in this world logic will kill you.  He attempted suicide and was very nearly successful.  We have spent the year in psychiatric treatment, eating disorder treatment, and 24/7 death watch.  He cut, he wallowed in depression, and he fought to get his life back.  He fought for US more than himself.  I have not blogged about this but I have journaled through our struggles.  You can know the symptoms, see the signs, plan with professionals, and STILL fail your child.  May no other parent walk this path.

I have learned to be patient.  I have learned to trust God.  I have learned that you can't fight the battles your child is destined to fight.  You can support.  You can pray.  You can learn.  You can help.  You can pray...  but you can't take the cross from your child's shoulders no matter how much you desire to do so.

We have made it a year.  He is still alive and working on his coping skills.  We are blessed.  I hope that there are positives that can come from this --- such as my being a resource to others walking on this path.  Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  If you are considering it please reach out for help.  The aftermath is unfathomable.... Let people help you  YOU ARE NEVER ALONE in your struggles.

We are blessed he is still here and fighting.  He is a Wonder Boy!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Odd Happiness

So it feels strange to be happy in my current circumstance, but I am!  My son is at a public bowling alley with his friends he met at "the looney bin."  He calls it that and I think this means he is getting healthier.  He tried to kill himself two and a half weeks ago.  He took a massive overdose of another family member's medication.  His plan was all or none.  This was not meant to be a suicide attempt.  He intended a successful suicide.  Wonder Boy didn't realize that it was not his time to go.  I thank God that I am watching over my suicidal son right now.  I am so grateful that he failed at his plan and that I'm not planning a funeral.

He woke up from his attempt the morning after he took the pills.  His plan was to sleep and never wake.  He was in top physical  condition due to it just being the end of his sport's season at school.  


We learned in January that he was having trouble sleeping.  We got him in to a sleep specialist and knew he was sad.  He was being a champ and going to school even though he was too exhausted to sleep.  


He was bravely going through the motions with little to no sleep as we awaited his sleep study results in March.  Little did we know that he was deeply depressed.  He was talking and the counselor and doctor told us not to panic about the depression because we had identified the root cause (sleep) and were working to resolve the issue.  There were much deeper issues.  

Wonder Boy was severely depressed, suffered from lack of sleep, had anxiety and had been bulimic since October.  We only found out about the sleep in January!  My baby (he is 16 but he is still my baby) had been suffering from all of this since October.  His thoughts of suicide began in January.  He did not tell us despite daily conversational check ins.  He did not tell us because he did not want to hurt our feelings.  Oh, and having my son die wouldn't hurt my feelings?  His response was that he would not be here to see it.  He would be dead.  Mental illness results in disconnect nonlogical thinking.

He felt sick the morning after his massive overdose.  The day before he had eaten poorly so I was a mean mom that morning.  I told him that he felt sick because he ate total crap yesterday.  "You made your bed, now you are going to lie in it.  You are going to school and will suffer through the day" is what I said.  I don't know what possessed me be such a mean mom. Thank God I was. He lived.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Happy

Life has such ups and downs. As I watch my father age I am sad.  As I watch my children grow, I am happy.  I miss those I have lost but I have hope for the future.  It is so nice when friends from the past reach out to me to reconnect.  I am so grateful for my blessings now that I've experienced loss and close calls.  I have learned to appreciate this moment... the right now.  If only I'd had this wisdom when I was younger!  Ah but to be able to battle through depression now with the knowledge that brighter days do come... that is such a blessing.  I guess my lack of blog posts show that I'm better able to manage depression, grief, and pain now.  I see the gift it can be when I am able to empathize with others who suffer the same experiences.  We are not alone.  That alone brings comfort to the aching heart.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Wow, I've been away from blogger for so long I do not recognize the interface!


Life has been so busy.  I am still grateful that I have a 2nd career as a teacher.  My worst day teaching is still a very rewarding experience.  Working with teens is amazing because they are so honest about what matters to them.  It is nice and refreshing to be able to work with them.  I am blessed.  It is a gift to be able to have my work make a difference in my student's lives.


Additionally I am blessed because I had one hell of a scare this spring.  I had bleeding and a bad mammogram. The doctor was planning a removal of the ducts in my breast, but the radiologist moved the surgery up by a week due to the big changes in my mammogram.  I will say that this is not the out patient surgery that some might have you believe.  The pain was worse than I imagined.  I guess I should have expected more since I was  having a small tumor removed from the nipple (with reconstruction fun) as well as the duct removal.  I don't know why, but I though this would be  a walk in the park.  I'm so silly the way I underestimate things.  


I'm happy to report that surgery went well and, though slow, recovery has gone well too.  I am also happy to report that radiation is not necessary.  My oncologist and I giggled together as she reported my abnormalities were BENIGN!  Was there ever such a beautiful word in the English language?


I am now walking the 3-day to celebrate my summer without radiation.  I don't have enough time to train but I'm hoping to make up for it with heart :)


I am once again grateful.  Life is good.

Friday, January 13, 2012

I am lucky.

This week I indulged in some moments of feeling sorry for myself. I work 2 jobs. I have 2 kids. my husband's job stinks and he need to go for something better...

Then I got a call from a good friend. You know the kind of friend I'm talking about... the kind of friend who you speak to and you pick up just where you left off. All is the same. You catch up and it was like yesterday.

But it isn't like yesterday. Yesterday she didn't have BRAIN CANCER. Really? Brain caner?

Yep. Brain cancer. My problems are so small. How dare I even feel sorry for myself for a moment?

If you pray, please pray for my friend. I don't care how confident a surgeon is... we are talking about BRAIN CANCER. Damn. My life is great. How dare I complain that I have bronchitis?

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Neglected

Dear Blog,

I am sorry I have neglected you. I've been so busy LIVING that I have not had time to write. I turn to you when I need perspective. I turn to you when I need to work out my thoughts. I turn to you when I am sad. During this past year I have been busy. I have been teaching, learning, and living. I am adjusting to life as a mother of teens. Wonder Boy and Super Girl are both in high school now. Where did the time go? Super Girl is taking driver education classes and Wonder Boy is experiencing the ups and downs of high school sports.

I have become a better teacher. I can now diagnose the learning issues and help treat them quicker. I love the joy of watching 14 and 15 year olds discover that they don't hate reading -- they just hate the books others choose for them. It has changed me. I hate what is happening in education in my state but I LOVE what is happening in my classroom.

I am learning to appreciate my siblings more. We have our struggles, but have learned that we are all we have left in this world. We are honest with each other and let our differences go now. We have lost many in this past year. I attended 5 funerals in the span from February to September. I learned how I'd like to be remembered (so I spend time with people vs. cleaning my house). I learned that I better allow others to take my picture -- I don't want my kids to struggle so much when they make the picture boards for my funeral.

I have learned that I can't change what people think but I can change how I respond to them. I have learned that I don't have to let my mother inlaw into my home if it will steal my peace. I am proud of this. The more I live the more I learn. I appreciate my teachers more now than ever before. I am grateful that they read my bad essays.

May this year bring you peace and joy. May life treat you well, give you great stories and teach you great lessons.

Peace & Joy,
GRG.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Not ready for this...

Watching my father age is scary. I remember his mother besieged by dementia when she was just a few years older than he is now. I remember reality slipping away from her. I see that he is not as sharp as he used to be.... I see him struggle with macular degeneration. How horrible it would be to not be able to read any longer.

I see him struggle with comprehension of what he reads and with memory.... I hate watching the aging process. I hate watching these changes as they signify a time when he will no longer be independent. I'm not ready. I'm not ready for this... Please stop. I'm not ready.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

No Greater Joy

There is no greater joy than teaching. Sure, the hours are long (especially for high school English teachers), but the rewards are plentiful. I am so glad to be a 2nd career teacher. I am so grateful for the students that I spent time with on a daily basis. There is something unbelievably wonderful about witnessing growth over time. There is something amazing in watching your freshmen become sophomores.... not to mention watching your seniors graduate!

My 2nd year of teaching is complete and I'm so very grateful. It took 7 years of night classes to get my certification, but it was well worth it. In a time when teachers are demonized I still can't help but be grateful. Sure, the pay stinks. Sure, my benefits are cut. Sure, my hours are long and I have to work a summer job to get by... but it is worth it. I have joy on a daily basis in my classroom. I love to support the students who just need someone to believe in them. I love to watch them experience the joy of success. No other job has given me such joy.

What a gift they are to me. I am so very grateful!

Monday, January 24, 2011

As I age...

I realize what is important. I don't really care about how I look or what people think of me. I care about what I can do, what I can control, how I can make a difference.

I don't care if I'm fat. I don't care if my students think I'm fair because I KNOW that I am more than fair; I am merciful. I realize what truly matters is being able to live with the decisions that I make. I realize that helping a single student secure a sense of accomplishment is well worth the BS that can bring me down.

My students are important, but I realize that what is most important is my relationships with my children. My home must be a refuge and place of peace. Hubby will learn this too... he has not suffered enough to get this yet. Better that he not understand; better that he not be forced to crave peace. Better that he not know that desperation for one area of life to be safe...

I know am I not alone. I know it will get better. I hope my body can keep up with my spirit.... I can do this. I know I can. Why is my blood pressure so high? Why can't I lose the extra weight? Please, let me be all that I want to be.... please let my body withstand and thrive as I tackle these challenges.

I've been more than 3 days without a cigarette. I wish I'd never picked one up. Darn if it didn't help me cope though.... Perhaps by conquering this nasty habit (restarted in June) I can get control of my eating and my life....

I wonder if these bad habits are crutches we are given to help us limp through the crazy tough times? I forgive myself though I hate to admit this fault... a girl can only do her best. A crutch in the storm is not so bad... It would be nice if the storm passed.... I must get stronger so that I do not need crutches.

More than 4 days without a cigarette.... I am proud. Pray that I can conquer this and my weight. I want to make a difference in this world before I leave it....